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Library Research Strategies

When you know in advance which publication you are looking for

Person reading

Kamil Porembinski. (2009, Jan. 17). Reading in Cadiz. Retrieved from https://www.flickr.com/photos/paszczak000/3311707373. Used under the Creative Commons License.

When you have a specific publication you are looking for before you begin searching, you are conducting what's called a known item search.  A publication can be identified and found using one or more characteristics in particular:  article title, author or authors, or journal that published the article.  Known item searching allows you to look that specific publication up directly.  It is, obviously, a different means of searching that searching by subject area, which returns you a broad range of publications relating to your topic.

Ways of conducting know item searches

Example of an article title search in SmartSearch

The easiest way to search for an article by its title is to use SmartSearch -- the search bar you see on the library's main homepage.  You can just type the title of the article into the search bar and search, though it is recommended to place the title "in quotation marks, like this."  As is noted on the Broaden or narrow your search page of this guide, quotation marks create a phrase. A database will search all the words together in the order you entered them.  While there isn't a 100% guarantee that SmartSearch will find a record for your article, it nearly always does.  Please note that finding the record and accessing the full text of the article are two separate procedures, and also that the presence of a record in SmartSearch does not guarantee that the WSU University Libraries has the actual text of the article in its collection.  You can find more information about accessing the text of an article from its record on the Accessing an article from a database record tab to the left.

Example of searching SmartSearch by author name

You can use SmartSearch -- the search bar you see on the library's main homepage -- to search for articles by their author or authors.  Searching by author names "in quotation marks, like this" can help ensure SmartSearch identifies the correct author.  As is noted on the Broaden or narrow your search page of this guide, quotation marks create a phrase.  In the example above, the fact that the second author's name is in quotation marks tells SmartSearch to avoid a separate, irrelevant article which happens to have Samuel Hoden and Allison Engine as authors.  

Please note that finding the record and accessing the article's full text are two separate procedures, and also that the presence of a record in SmartSearch does not guarantee that the WSU University Libraries has the actual text of the article in its collection.  You can find more information about accessing the text of an article from its record on the Accessing an article from a database record tab to the left.

Finding an article by the journal that published it is slightly more complicated than finding it by its title or authors, though depending upon individual circumstances, this method can be the most precise means of finding at article.  To do this, you need to know not only the title of the journal that published your article, but also the volume and issue numbers of the specific issue of the journal where the article ran.  You may also need to know the page numbers within that issue that correspond to your article.  Also, sometimes the issue number isn't necessary, as not all journals separate their volumes into individual issues.

The easiest way to search for a journal title is to use the WSU University Libraries catalog.  Type in the journal title (in "quotations" if needed -- as is noted on the Broaden or narrow your search page of this guide, quotation marks create a phrase. A database will search all the words together in the order you entered them).  Before searching, highlight the third option on the dropdown menu to the right of the search bar.  Doing this allows you to search for the exact title of the journal.

To be clear, you are searching for the title of a journal, not the title of an article published in a journal.  Instructions for searching for an article by its title may be found in the left-most tab of this box.

If the WSU University Libraries has access to the journal you are looking for, it will show up as a record within your search results.  From there, you can check to see if we have the year of publication, volume, and issue (if applicable) where your article was published.  The University Libraries does not have the full run of every journal in our collection -- if we do not have the year, volume, and issue that you need, you can request your article through interlibrary loan (see the ILL tab in the navigation menu to the left).

If we do have the year, volume, and issue that you need, and we have access to the journal in a digital format, you should be able to browse your way to the text of your article.  In rare instances, the University Libraries has the text of a journal in print but not online.  If that is the case for you, the catalog record for the journal will offer you a call number which you can use to locate the print editions of the journal in the library.  The Locating a print book after you have searched for it section of the Locating books and ebooks tab in the navigation menu to the left (under Find books and ebooks) has instructions on how you can read these call numbers.  The only difference is that you are looking for a set of print journal issues instead of a book.

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